Renault: 2014 Koleos 4×4 2.5-litre review

September 11th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

I’m constantly intrigued by new words and whenever I review a car I find out the etymology behind the name. Koleos is Greek and, as far as I can tell, spelled κολεός. Try putting that in Google Translate and, well, you’ll find a very Latin name for a very female part of the body.

But I digress, and today I’m driving around in a black Koleos. It’s a medium-sized SUV with a few Nissan X-Trail underpinnings that has proper off-road four-wheel drive capabilities, although looking at the tyres and given the amount of rain we’ve just had I’m not that keen on driving on anything that isn’t at least a partial product of fractal distillation. Continue reading “Renault: 2014 Koleos 4×4 2.5-litre review” »

Renault: 2014 Clio Expression TCe 120 quick drive

June 28th, 2014 by Robert Barry

DSC_0231When a lovely lady named Gail rang me from the Auckland Renault dealership to book a press drive of the new Clio hatch, she asked me what body colour I would like? Continue reading “Renault: 2014 Clio Expression TCe 120 quick drive” »

Renault Megane RS265 Trophy 2012 Review

September 19th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

It’s not often you have the police to thanks for an insanely quick car being made even quicker. In this case it’s the French Gendarmes who requested a rapid response vehicle with a minimum of 265 horsepower. Renault obliged by taking its existing RS250 and squeezing another 15 horsepower out of it. That makes a total of 265hp or 195kW to you new-school hipsters.

So we said ‘merci’ to the Frenchies and took the Megane RS265 for a strop around the more twisty roads just out of Auckland. The fact that this car has done a lap of 8 minutes 8 seconds around Nurburgring will not be lost on you the first time you Continue reading “Renault Megane RS265 Trophy 2012 Review” »

Be Careful With Advice Or Your Name Could Be Mud

July 10th, 2012 by Tim Grimley

If I’m honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to this Saturday. You can fake all the bravado you want to your friends, but when push comes to shove, only a true mental case would actually look forward to putting on a pretty Heath Robinson superman costume composed mostly of women’s undercrackers and crawling through an assortment of freezing swamps.

The Tough Guy and Gal Challenge is one of those events that seems like an absolute hoot sometime around January when severely intoxicated. What a laugh it would be to go for a bit of a jog through the countryside, occasionally pausing to wade through a few streams and finish off with a warm shower and a tincture or two.

Yeah, she’ll be right….

Reality comes with a fairly savage bite when the day comes around and you realise that the actual process involves standing in a series of chilly queues with several hundred people waiting to be shoved into what purports to be water, but actually smells like an outbreak of equine dysentery at the Melbourne Cup. However, despite everything I managed to haul myself around the course and after a freezing shower in the car park, was readying myself for the tincture stage of proceedings when things suddenly took a dramatic turn for the worse.

‘Hey Tim, you know a lot about cars don’t you?’

There is nothing more certain to strike fear into my heart than hearing these words, because the end result is always one of two things. Either someone wants to introduce their Uncle Norris who has spent the last twenty years rebuilding an MG using only his teeth and is dying to spend the next twenty explaining to someone every step of the process in minute detail or even more terrifyingly, they want to talk about a car purchase.

As you well know, people are fairly precious about their beloved automobiles and I’ve yet to discover a way of telling someone that they are a mush-brained berk for choosing a Holden Barina over a Ford Fiesta that doesn’t result in some degree of umbrage being taken. It’s all well and good to take a swipe at a global motor manufacturer who, despite having a small African defence budget to play with, still turn out a rotter of a motor, but I’ve never liked breaking an individual’s heart by telling them that they would have been better off investing their hard-earned wedge on a decent pair of walking boots and a bus pass. Thus, in order to maintain some semblance of integrity, I’m forced to conduct the entire conversation with vague hand gestures and phrases along the lines of “It’s very you”.

Would you take advice from this man?

Although even that is preferable to what I was actually asked: what used car someone should buy in the first place. While I could – and occasionally do – bang on for longer than is socially acceptable about the comparative merits of various manufacturers’ current model range, how a car stacks up several years down the line can be a bit of a lottery.

Take for example the greatest car I have ever bought. It was a Volvo 740 and that was down to the fact it could slide around roundabouts at 20kph with a wardrobe in the back, make your bottom warm on cold mornings, had an entertaining overdrive button on the gear lever in lieu of a fifth gear and only cost $700. It was a thoroughly magnificent beast and is the car I regret selling over all others. Even with 400,000km on the clock it ran like a dream and I would have happily sold it to my best friend, such was my trust in its Nordic abilities.

Although this was a sale unlikely ever to go through due to the fact my best friend refused to get in it. Despite all of the plus points mentioned above, less than careful previous owners meant it had one or two minor foibles such as the roof lining randomly falling off, every door, window and the sunroof leaking like a baby and the whole thing reeking of damp labrador.

If the earlier caretakers had put a smidgen more effort into basic upkeep and not keeping sodden pets in the back it would have been perfect. A car is only as good as the people who have used it and until the day someone starts vetting the social and mechanical standards of people, the process of purchasing an older vehicle will always be a bit of a lottery.

And therefore if faced with the same situation, I can only recommend you take the option I did; resort to abject cowardice and come up with a solution that you are absolutely confident no-one will buy. My recommendation of the Renault Laguna station wagon as a safe, practical, fun and reasonably economical family option was totally on the mark, but there is not a cat in hells chance anyone spending $10,000 of their own money would risk one over the likes of Subaru’s Legacy or Nissan’s Primera.

I’ll admit it was pretty shameful behaviour for one dressed as a superhero, but after that mud run, I was happy to get out of sticky situations in any way I could.

ZOE The Affordable Electric Car

March 8th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Renault has launched an affordable electric car, ZOE, at the Geneva Motor Show. It will go on sale in the UK – and other European markets – later this year.

ZOE features six world firsts and 60 patents in its ground breaking technology.

Designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, ZOE packs the industry’s most advanced technology, including no fewer than six ‘world premiere’ features designed to deliver user-friendliness, range and connectivity.

No decision has been made as to whether ZOE will be launched in New Zealand as any infra structure for electric vehicles is only in its infancy.

ZOE comes in the wake of the status-enhancing Fluence Z.E. saloon, Kangoo Van Z.E. (both launched in 2011) and the innovative urban runabout Twizy to make Zero Emission mobility a reality for ordinary motorists – one of the pledges of Renault’s ‘Drive the Change’ signature.

Through its ‘Renault 2016 – Drive the Change’ plan, and thanks to its growing range of electric vehicles, along with work on its internal combustion engines, Renault has made a commitment to reduce its global carbon footprint by 10 per cent by 2013, and by a further 10 per cent between 2013 and 2016. The fruit of this strategy can now be seen on the street.

Renault’s new design strategy is now visible with ZOE’s new front-end styling signature.

“ZOE will be the spearhead of the Renault Z.E. range and the version on show at Geneva represents the model’s final design. In addition to its compact size, attractive styling and affordable price tag, it showcases Renault’s technological excellence when it comes to electric vehicles. ZOE also heralds the beginning of a new era of electric mobility for all and confirms our commitment to electric vehicles. It marks an important step for Renault which has a 110-year history of making major innovations a concrete reality for ordinary motorists.” Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Renault

Zoe will be the first mass-market electric vehicle with a range of more than 200 kms. It is equipped as standard with ‘Range OptimiZEr, a system designed to improve real-world range under all driving conditions. For example, in suburban use the owner will achieve between 100 and 150 kms.

Zoe is the first electric vehicle capable of being charged at any level of power from 3 kWs to 43 kWs – in between 30 minutes and nine hours – thanks to the Chameleon charger.

It is the first electric vehicle to enable the massive roll-out of fast-charging stations, which are easier and up to four times cheaper for local governments and it is the first Renault vehicle to be presented with Renault R-Link, a multimedia system featuring a seven-inch touch screen tablet, navigation and connected services.

Zoe’s price is comparable to that of a diesel-engined city car in markets where tax incentives are available, as low as UK13,650 sterling with tax incentives. Even in countries where tax incentives are not currently available, prices for ZOE are still attractive. In Switzerland, ZOE’s catalogue price is 22,800 Swiss francs with no Government support for electric or hybrid vehicles.

In the UK, monthly battery hire costs from $NZ140 (14,500 kms/36 month contract), inclusive of comprehensive breakdown assistance (which covers flat batteries).

More than 60 patents have been filed for ZOE’s design. Range, interactivity and occupant wellbeing are at the core of its innovations.

In terms of autonomy, Renault has developed the ‘Range OptimiZEr’, which combines three major innovations (new-generation regenerative braking, a heat pump and MICHELIN EnergyTM E-V tyres).

New-generation regenerative braking recovers practically all of the energy otherwise wasted during braking, without any significant impact on ZOE’s on-road dynamics. The car offers a smooth drive with no jarring electric motor braking. The system works in two ways:

– The kinetic energy produced under deceleration and braking is recovered by the motor so that it can be converted into electricity to charge the battery. This feature is also fitted to Fluence Z.E. and Kangoo Z.E.
– When the driver presses the brake pedal, the system intelligently distributes the braking effort between applying the brake pads and the electric motor brake with a view to maximising the use of the electric motor brake and charging of the battery.

The heat pump provides excellent thermal comfort without detracting from the vehicle’s range. This system, which operates in the same way as reverse-cycle air-conditioning, consumes very little electricity. It produces warm or cool air by simply reversing the cycle of operation. The heat pump generates approximately 2kW of cooling or 3kW of heat with just 1kW of electricity. The cabin temperature is also more constant since it is not affected by the heat given off by the motor.

The MICHELIN EnergyTM E-V tyre is a Michelin innovation co-developed with Renault as a world premiere for ZOE. The tyre features enhanced energy efficiency to maximise vehicle range. Its rubber compound, tread design and sidewalls have been engineered to withstand ZOE’s high torque and address the specific demands of electric vehicles, yet it still delivers the same safety and handling performance as all other Michelin tyres. Available in 15- and 16-inch versions, this tyre is fitted to all ZOE models as core equipment.

ZOE is the only electric vehicle to feature the Chameleon charger. Patented by Renault, this charger is compatible with all power levels up to 43kW. Charging batteries at a charging station can take between 30 minutes and nine hours. For example, ZOE can be charged in an hour at 22kW. This intermediate power level extends battery life and puts less pressure on the power grid than the fast-charging of batteries at 43kW.

The Chameleon charger allows fast-charging at charging stations at quarter of the cost.

ZOE is the first Renault vehicle to feature R-Link, Renault’s brand-new integrated, connected multimedia system. To enable drivers to control its functions without taking their eyes off the road, R-Link features a large seven-inch display, steering wheel-mounted controls and voice recognition. It also delivers integrated connectivity with motoring services and applications available from the R-Link Store. When released, R-Link Store will offer more than 50 applications adapted for life on the move thanks to an active partnership with application developers. These apps will be downloadable directly inside the car or via owners’ My Renault account.

R-Link also includes a host of new functions dedicated to electric driving and range management: tracking of energy consumption, display of energy flows and pre-programming of battery charging. The navigation system offers bespoke services such as a display of the vehicle’s operating radius based on the range remaining in the battery, suggestions for the most energy-efficient itineraries and the location of nearby battery charging stations (depending on country), as well as their real-time availability. R-Link also lets drivers view their eco-driving performance and improve their technique with ‘eco-scoring’ and tips (general and personalised).

Driving ZOE is a unique experience which gives new meaning to the term ‘driving pleasure’. The synchronous electric motor with rotor coil has a power output of 65kW and instantly delivers maximum torque of 220Nm. Acceleration and pull-away are responsive from low speeds. Driving is more relaxing thanks to the silent ride and smooth, gearshift-free acceleration.

For stress-free driving in built-up areas, ZOE is fitted with ‘Z.E. Voice’, an alarm which warns pedestrians that the vehicle is approaching. ‘Z.E. Voice’ can be heard from 1 to 18 mph and was the subject of special design work to create a bespoke sound identity for ZOE. The driver can choose between three different sounds, while it is possible to turn off the warning system by simply pressing a button.

Programmable pre-conditioning heats or cools ZOE’s cabin when the vehicle is charging. There are two benefits for the system. Firstly, when the driver gets into the car the cabin is just the right temperature and secondly, it removes the need to use up battery charge.

An activated charcoal cabin air filter traps most bad smells and pollutants. It also filters substances just a few microns in size, such as pollen and soot.

Like all electric vehicles, ZOE emits no CO2, NOx, CO or fine particles. It also signals the loss of unpleasant smells and ‘engine’ noise during road use. Well-to-wheel CO2 emissions depend on the energy-generation mix of each country. Emissions total 62 g/km of CO2 in Europe, versus 89 g/km for the new Toyota Prius. They are even lower in France at just 12 g/km of CO2.

ZOE complies with the very latest criteria required to qualify for the Renault eco² signature. It is manufactured at Renault’s ISO 14001-certified factory at Flins, France.
As required by Renault’s eco-friendly hallmark, its CO2 emissions are less than 120g/km. ZOE is 85 per cent recyclable, while nine per cent of the plastic it contains is sourced from recycling.

Length (mm) 4,084
Overall width (mm) 1,730
Height (unladen) (mm) 1,568
Wheelbase (mm) 2,588
Boot capacity (litres) 338
Number of seats 5
Front / rear overhang (mm) 836 / 661
Front / rear track (mm) 1,506 / 1,489

Type – Synchronous with rotor coil
Power 65 kWs
Maximum torque 220 Nm
Transmission – Reducer gear

Type – Lithium-ion
Capacity 22 kWs
Range (NEDC) 200 kms
Top speed 135 km/h

Type – Single or three phase supply up to 43kW
Charge time – 3kW (16A single phase wall box) = 9 hours
22kW (32A three-phase charging station) = 1 hour
43kW (63A three-phase charging station) = 30 minutes

Renault 5 for Monte

January 25th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

A trio of Renault 5 Alpines will contest this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique to start the celebrations marking the car’s 40th anniversary.

The cars have been purposely prepared for the event and will be driven by Frenchmen Jean Ragnotti who was second on the 1978 Monte Carlo Rally in a 5 Alpine, Alain Serpaggi and Manu Guigou. All three cars will start the rally from Reims.

This year, Renault is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Renault 5, which notched up total sales of five million cars in the course of its career. The diminutive French hatchback will be in the spotlight throughout 2012, and celebrations will kick off with the presence of three original, Renault-entered Renault 5 Alpines on the 2012 Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique.

The three cars have been specially prepared for the Monegasque event by Renault Classic. They were entirely stripped and carefully rebuilt as a function of the challenge that awaits them along the 2,500km route.

Emmanuel Guigou, the 2008 French Gravel Rally Championship runner-up who is more accustomed to the Group N4 Megane R.S. than the ‘R5 Alpine’.

Alain Serpaggi, a former test driver with Alpine who has an impressive, eclectic record in motorsport.

Jean Ragnotti will drive the same car (N°19) which he steered to second place overall on the 1978 Rallye Monte-Carlo. That landmark performance for the driver and his diminutive front-wheel drive car was backed up by a podium finish for Guy Fréquelin who came third on the same event.

Technical Data:

  • Engine: four cylinders in-line, 1,397cc,
  • Transmission: front-wheel drive, five-speed gearbox + reverse
  • Brakes: discs all-round
  • Length: 3.56m / Width: 1.52m / Weight: 870kg
  • Top speed: approximately 190kph

Renault Megane 2011 Review

November 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Much like celebrities Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez, Renault’s Megane became well known for the shapely figure of its behind. This characteristic defined the second generation of Renault’s volume-selling hatchback. Butt now the Megane is back for its third edition and after shedding some pounds it’s sporting a sleeker, leaner look. Pitted as a genuine contender against the benchmark VW Golf, the Megane has a lot to prove here in NZ. It’s arrived here a couple of years after debuting in Europe but the Megane may be the vehicle to advance Renault’s place in the consciousness of kiwi car buyers. Car and SUV got some seat-time in a Megane hatchback and found out why.

Exterior Styling – No junk in the Trunk
The chunky back end of its predecessor is gone but it’s still no waif at the rear. Wrap-around two-piece taillights and a curved rear windscreen add visual width. Away from the famous derriere, the Megane has a strong look and although highly styled remains fairly sedate for a French hatch. Prominent front guards and muscular rear haunches give it a dynamic stance, and unique touches include thick plastic trim on the bottom of the doors and a deeply creased bonnet. The look is finished with colour-coded mirror caps, silver door handles and front fog lamps. Standard wheel fitment is a 16-inch 5-spoke alloy that has a chunky appeal but falls short of completely filling the cavernous guards. Overall, the Megane is an elegant looker, it may not appeal to those who like their French styling extreme but it won’t polarize opinion like its predecessor.   Continue reading “Renault Megane 2011 Review” »

Pay Attention, It’s Time For A French Lesson

October 22nd, 2011 by Tim Grimley

The more – and almost certainly even the less – observant amongst you will have noticed that over the last few weeks there have been more than a few tenuous links made between rugby and motoring in this column. And as the biggest match in New Zealand rugby since 1987 is being played out in Auckland’s own theatre of dreams this weekend, it would be all too easy to find one more pretty loose tie-in between the unlikely bedfellows that are egg chasing and motoring.

And so, therefore, I will.

But rather than dwelling too heavily on the sport itself, my focus is rather more on one of the participants in Sunday night’s encounter – the French. As a previous inhabitant of the Northern shores of La Manche, I learned a long time ago that the only thing that could be expected from the French with any degree of certainty is the unexpected.

Ooh la la! Beauty........

Nowhere is this more certain than in the motoring world, where no-one could ever be sure if their next release was going to be a work of beauty, genius, madness or just plain badness. Sometimes, as was the case with the massively opinion polarising 2CV, they managed to do all four at once. Just for the sheer hell of it I suspect.
This is the nation that can give the Citroen DS with one hand – a vehicle of such unquestionable beauty that it makes you wonder why all cars cannot be styled in such a way – and then take it all back again with a monstrosity like the Renault Fuego with the other. But just to keep a sense of mystery, excitement and intrigue in the relationship, every so often they throw you a Peugeot 205 GTi. Followed rather quickly by a Renault Safrane.

Yet for all their little highs and lows, if you ever needed the ultimate proof that our garlic obsessed cousins are capable of crushing the world when it is least expected, look no further than the Bugatti Veyron. Yes, it sounds Italian and yes, a lot of the bits come from parent company VW, but hailing as it does from Molsheim in the Alsace, the Bugatti is every bit as French as impassive shrugging and baguettes. With its roots back in 2005, when the Gallic automotive output was typified by the blandest Peugeots in living memory, the Veyron was a stark reminder that when the Frenchies put their minds to it, they can not only take on the world, but simply blow it away with their effortless style. Continue reading “Pay Attention, It’s Time For A French Lesson” »

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